By Hephzibah Dutt
Weaving together dance, drumming, and personal narratives, Dancing With Crow’s Feet is a performance about older adults, by older adults, for….everyone. It is one of the first fruits of a long-term story project by Arts and Ageing KC. The production confronts society’s obsession with youth, and works to dismantle the notion that one has to fight ageing to be beautiful. With the exception of two young performers, all the story-tellers, dancers, musicians and (the sole male) songwriter-pianist are older adults (60-95).
Using a reader’s theatre style staging, the women share snippets from their lives. One tells us, “when I was young, I was Chubby! But I didn’t care, I just wanted to play with the boys!” “Another narrates how she had to advocate for herself so that she could wear pants in her workplace instead of dresses. Another woman shares a brave, beautiful moment when she stepped out of a ski lift in Austria to discover that she was standing in the clouds. The stories are shared with great honestly, expression and a fair amount of humour. The audience was held enthralled as each moment that was shared reminded us that the person before us is much, much more than “just” and older woman. She is a human being who lived through one phase of beauty and now, is a different one.
To “dance with crow’s feet” becomes a metaphor for happily accepting ageing. To this end, the women form a humorous chorus of crows and laud the virtues of the humble avian with resounding kaw-kaws. Dances by Nicole English, Mavis Mahlberg, Nancy Murdock, and a stunning tap dance routine by Billie Mahoney are interpreted through the stories, and make manifest the beauty and vigor of older women. The young performers, Sidney and Sienna Miller do a wonderful job at their multiple roles through the performance. They are pitch-perfect in their musical numbers and expressive young performers.
This show was not for just the indulgent family members and friends. I not only enjoyed the performance immensely and left feeling educated and challenged. Co-writers Deb Campbell and Cara Powers are to be commended for putting together a show that not only entertains its audiences, but draws older adults into the creative and therapeutic process of theatre and performance